DOVER, Delaware — A panel charged with overseeing Delaware's medical marijuana program got an earful of complaints about the state's current pilot project at its first meeting Tuesday.
The nine-member panel is charged with evaluating and making recommendations on implementing Delaware's medical marijuana program, which currently centers around a single dispensary that opened in June on the outskirts of Wilmington.
After approving their initial bylaws and electing a chair and vice chair, panel members opened up Tuesday's meeting for public comment.
Several holders of medical marijuana cards complained about what they described as the high cost and poor quality of cannabis products supplied by the First State Compassion Center, poor customer service, and resistance among some health care practitioners to using marijuana as medicine. They said officials should allow Delaware residents to grow their own marijuana, as more than a dozen other states have done.
"The high cost and low quality just can't continue. ... It's embarrassing," said Trevor Wiberg, a medical marijuana patient from Rehoboth who said he is considering not renewing his eligibility for the program.
First State Compassion Center officials defended their business and their products.
"I vehemently disagree with that characterization of the medicine," said Joel Allcock, chief operating officer and director of cultivation for First State Compassion Center. "The patients that tell me about their experience at the center, they say the quality is unsurpassed."
Allcock also said the center's prices for quality-controlled and lab-tested products can't be compared to those of street dealers who don't pay taxes, insurance and other expenses in selling their unregulated pot.
But Sen. Margaret Rose Henry, a leading legislative advocate of medical marijuana who was elected chair of the oversight panel, assured patients that their concerns would be addressed.
"We have a call to action here from the community that frankly we cannot ignore," she said. "We've heard you loud and clear."